Review By Bobby Green
It’s funny how things turn out. If I wasn’t at Gruffs wedding in 2002 then I would never have met Walshy. If I hadn’t have ever met Walshy then I would never have moved to The Nire Valley. If I hadn’t have moved to The Nire Valley then I would never have taken the poison that night that led to Walshy, Myself and Collins Steering our houseboat down the Nire watching as the moonlight guided us on a journey that led us to Jape.
On a perfect night, such as it was, when the moon lights up the Nire it’s easy to believe in magic. I’ve often spoke to god on moonlit nights down in that most sacred of places, only to wake up the following morning covered in someone else’s disgrace. But on this night in particular we were worshiping at the church of Donal Dineen and he certainly spoke to us that evening with his superb show that was on Today FM at the time. We’ll never forget that show, because that was the first time that we heard Floating by Jape. It was absolute perfection for that exact moment in time, and for those few moments everything stopped while we were transfixed by what was coming through the speakers of our makeshift houseboat while we were trying not to crash into those judgmental but oh so wise old trees.
Anyone who has ever seen Jape live has experienced how intimate Jape’s music and performances can be. How one of Jape’s tracks can take you out of yourself and transport you to another world. How he has the ability to connect directly to the emotional you, the you that you tap into when experiencing something special. I’ve seen him rock a field of festival goers to their very core and I’ve also seen just him and a drum machine (there might have been another guitarist…. Oh, that poison) play to 30 or so odd Dublin punks and still play with the same intensity and intimacy. I’ve also taken a few friends along to see him play in Cork one night where the sound was just awful, and he knew it, but he grabbed the crowed with his energy and enthusiasm and lifted us to a higher place, and we didn’t care about the sound as he had us all held tight in the heart of his intimate performance
One reason for his popularity is not just his talent but the way his music bursts with his honesty. His live performances are a reflection of his studio work where time after time he puts his heart and soul on the line in his own unique way. A lot of Irish singer song writers might as well open a blood bank for all their bleeding hearts, but Jape’s honesty puts his song writing head and shoulders above most others, and he’s not afraid to experiment with his style either, in fact it’s at the core of his work I think. He’s also not afraid to mix it up a bit either, his last 2 albums, Ritual and Ocean of Frequency have seen a contemporary dance edge come more into his music that has the confidence and swagger reminiscent of early Happy Mondays. And those two albums make Jape currently the only band to have won two Choice Music Awards. But my favorite has to be The Monkeys In The Zoo Have More Fun Than Me. Perhaps it’s because it was my first introduction into Jape, as I’ve said before ‘You never forget your first kiss’
So how does This Chemical Sea, Jape’s 5th Studio album shape up against their others that I so obviously hold in such high esteem.
The first thing I noticed was how warm the sound is, it was beautifully produced. With space to breath, the whole album has an underlying groove that dips in, out and around of some dark as well as some very uplifting moments. Sometimes you’re mesmerized by the landscapes and at other times you’re wising it was 5 in the morning and Nightmares On Wax were doing a 20 minuet remix of Without Life In The Way. It’s got a groove on it that dancing outside to sunrises was made for.
In 2012 Richard Egan moved to the south of Sweden where he set up his recording studio. It is from this studio in Malmö that the new LP “This Chemical Sea” came to fruition and where he continues to write, record and collaborate. Richard says of the move ‘The reflective nature of Sweden is great for writing and the summers are so beautiful it makes the slightly grey winters worthwhile. And this album encapsulates without doubt how beautiful those seasons are reflecting on Jape’s music.
So early on in 2015 and Jape have delivered an album so good that it will take something special to knock it off the soundtrack to your year. I can see it warming up my winter evenings and bringing me right through to those warm summer sunsets. I might even try and sail that houseboat down The Nire again. This album deserves a beautiful landscape to be heard in. The good thing about This Chemical Sea is you don’t have to go anywhere to experience that because it’s all in the music. Don’t just treat yourself to this album, treat yourself to a decent set of headphones and start listening to music properly again. Go somewhere on This Chemical Sea with Jape, by the sounds of this album, it’s beautiful where Jape is right now.